Matched Sets

By Karen Parr-Moody


When I lived in New York City, my next-door-neighbor worked for Martha Stewart, that doyenne of décor. She had been in Martha’s home in Connecticut for photo shoots and duly reported back that Martha owned enormous sets of matching items, including a fabulous collection of Depression glass. My friend said the vastness of it made her want to give up the dream of collecting anything. It was obvious, she joked, that Martha owned it all.


We know that Martha doesn’t truly own every last collectible. That said, she does have – beyond Depression glass – exceptional collections of vintage McCoy pottery (in both white and pale blue shades) and Fire-King Jade-ite.


Most people would do fine with a few small matching sets scattered throughout their house. And there are many top-notch sets at GasLamp that would fill the bill.


The beauty accoutrements in this 11-piecce matched set, photo above right, are in an exquisite lilac color ($53.50; Booth B-115). Women have kept vessels such as these for their beauty items for thousands of years. You will note that one of these lilac vessels has a hole in the center of its lid. This is a hair receiver, which became a common fixture on dressing tables during the Victorian era. It was designed so that women could cull hair from their hairbrushes and tuck it into the receiver for other uses, including that of creating “ratts,” which were small balls of hair that women inserted into their hairstyles to add volume.


I have a Russian friend who turns up her nose at anything but “real” hot chocolate, and fortunately for her, Williams-Sonoma sells “real” hot chocolate. If you don’t get my meaning, “real” hot chocolate is actually done in the European method by melting chocolate shavings into steamed milk, not – gasp – by using cocoa powder.


While chocolate has been drunk as a beverage for thousands of years, the English of the mid-17th century took it to such heights that it required an actual porcelain set of accoutrements for its presentations to guests. It was at this time that early English chocolate pots arrived on the scene. They were often made of silver, with the family crest stamped into the side, but went on to be made in copper, china and porcelain, with floral decorations being especially popular. 

The 14-piece chocolate set in the photo, above left, is hand-painted with swans and would certainly do any lover of “real” hot chocolate proud ($125; Booth B-234).


I have an affinity for copies when they are quirky. Years ago I found a Staffordshire pottery spaniel “comfort dog” at GasLamp that was glazed in acid green. I can guarantee you that never in the history of Staffordshire pottery was an authentic comfort dog ever glazed in acid green.


Such is the case with this 7-piece pink set of earthenware that is was made in Japan, but is actually a strange copy of works by HB Henriot Quimper (photo, above right; $115; Booth B-234). Quimper is a type of hand-painted faïence earthenware that has been produced in Quimper, France since 1708; in fact, it is one of the oldest French companies in existence. This set, while not Quimper, is simply darling, don’t you think?


Salt cellars originated as a single, ornate vessel. But they eventually evolved into individual salt cellars during the Victorian era, when salt was decorously poured into a cellar at each guest’s place setting. Then guests the scattered salt onto food by using a diminutive salt spoon. The salt cellars in the photo, left, are a romantic set that would grace any table.  


This Edelstein teapot set, photo right, is such a lovely example of Art Deco porcelain and, at $35.50, is well-priced (Booth B-118). The Edelstein Porcelain Factory was founded in Kups, Bavaria, Germany, around 1934, but it is now defunct.


Sets are such fun to collect. You needn’t let them get out of hand. Just buy what you love and let those pieces shine.


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